Friday, May 15, 2009

Chill a Cella

I started thinking about all the cheap wine we drank in college, like Black Cat Riesling and Black Tower Liebfraumilch. Mostly we drank German wines because I was studying German at the time and liked the labels. And mostly we drank what we could afford, which was not much.

Then one night at the local Italian restaurant my roommate and I had a bottle of Vapolicella and I realized that there was more to wine than cheap whites. 

I was completely blindsided by the Vapolicella. It was such a departure from the super sweet Rieslings and Liebfraumilch's and it opened my palate in an unexpected way. I could actually feel a difference as well as taste it. And that was new to me. The Vapolicella had a weight and shape to it that was lacking in the the white wine I'd had. Up to that point, I'd not realized or noticed the vast range of tastes, textures and flavors in wine.

After that I spent more time in the wine aisle looking at the labels and trying all sorts of things. Since we rarely spent more than 4 dollars it was rather hit and miss. One stand out was the Bolla Vapolicella. The Bolla was a good wine for the price and set me off on Vapolicella jag.  

Around the same time the Aldo 'chill a cella' commercial came out for Cella Bianco (view it here) and people called me "Mar-chill-a-cella" for the next two years. Eventually, as with most jags, I got burned out and moved on to something else. 

I didn't drink Vapolicella again for almost 15 years. But recently I tried a bottle of Giuseppe Campagnola Valpolicella Classico Superiore Caterina Zardini 2005 and it made me appreciate it all a new.  

It certainly makes a difference to drink a Valpolicella Classico or Superiore instead of the regular old Vapolicella. And this wine was super superiore for around $24. I found this wine to be fresh and flavorful, quite spicy and even smokey, and with much more dimension than the Vapolicellas of old. 

After the fact, I discovered the 2006 had been rated tre bicceriere three glasses from Gambero Rosso. The bottle I tasted was a 2005 but it was still very much on the mark.

I think it's interesting to revisit wines we have a certain preconception about from time to time. So what have you drank, eaten, seen or read recently that re-acquainted you with something you once were obsessed with but may have forgotten? Do tell. 

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